Statins May Slow Human Aging by Protecting Against Telomere Shortening: A Feature of Senescent Cells

Body.OldAge2Not only do statins extend lives by lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease, but new research suggests that they may extend lifespans as well. Specifically, statins may reduce the rate at which telomeres shorten, a key factor in the natural aging process. This opens the door for using statins, or derivatives of statins, as an anti-aging therapy.

By telomerase activation, statins may represent a new molecular switch able to slow down senescent cells in our tissues and be able to lead healthy lifespan extension,” said Giuseppe Paolisso, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Internal Medicine, Surgical, Neurological Metabolic Disease and Geriatric Medicine at Second University of Naples in Naples, Italy.

“The great thing about statins is that they reduce risks for cardiovascular disease significantly and are generally safe for most people. The bad thing is that statins do have side effects, like muscle injury,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “But if it is confirmed that statins might actually slow aging itself – and not just the symptoms of aging – then statins are much more powerful drugs than we ever thought.”

Check the full article.

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Statins may slow human aging by protecting against telomere shortening: A feature of senescent cells.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2013.

Large Waist Linked to Poor Health, Even Among Those in Healthy Body Mass Index Ranges

Body.Overweight.Obese2Having a big belly has consequences beyond trouble squeezing into your pants. It’s detrimental to your health, even if you have a healthy body mass index (BMI), a new international collaborative study has found. Men and women with large waist circumferences were more likely to die younger, and were more likely to die from illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer after accounting for body mass index, smoking, alcohol use and physical activity.

Importantly, risk increased in a linear fashion such that for every 2 inches of greater circumference, mortality risk went up about 7 percent in men and about 9 percent in women. Thus, there was not one natural “cutpoint” for waist circumference that could be used in the clinic, as risk increased across the spectrum of circumferences.

Another key finding was that elevated mortality risk with increasing waist circumference was observed at all levels of BMI, even among people who had normal BMI levels. Because of the large size of this pooled study, researchers were able to clearly show the independent contribution of waist circumference after accounting for BMI, says James Cerhan, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and lead author of the study.

“The primary goal should be preventing both a high BMI and a large waist circumference,” Dr. Cerhan says. “For those patients who have a large waist, trimming down even a few inches – through exercise and diet – could have important health benefits.”

Source: Mayo Clinic. “Large waist linked to poor health, even among those in healthy body mass index ranges.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2014.

Older Adults: Build Muscle and You Will Live Longer

Body.MusclesThe more muscle mass older people have, the less likely they are to die prematurely, new research shows. The findings add to the growing evidence that overall body composition – and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI – is a better predictor of all-cause mortality. “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”

The body composition of the study subjects was measured using bioelectrical impedance, which involves running an electrical current through the body. Muscle allows the current to pass more easily than fat does, due to muscle’s water content. In this way, the researchers could determine a muscle mass index – the amount of muscle relative to height – similar to a body mass index. They looked at how this muscle mass index was related to the risk of death. They found that all-cause mortality was significantly lower in the fourth quartile of muscle mass index compared with the first quartile.

Check the full article.

Source: University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences. “Older adults: Build muscle and you’ll live longer.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2014.

Regular Physical Activity Reduces Breast Cancer Risk Irrespective of Age

Body.Disease.Cancer2Practising sport for more than an hour day reduces the risk of contracting breast cancer, and this applies to women of any age and any weight, and also unaffected by geographical location. Compared with the least active women, those with the highest level of physical activity reduced their risk of breast cancer by 12%, researchers say.

“Adding breast cancer, including its aggressive types, to the list of diseases that can be prevented by physical activity should encourage the development of cities that foster sport by becoming bike and walk-friendly, the creation of new sports facilities, and the promotion of exercise through education campaigns,” said Professor Mathieu Boniol, Research Director at the International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, France. “This is a low-cost, simple strategy to reduces the risk of a disease that currently has a very high cost, both to healthcare systems and to patients and their families. It is good news both for individuals and for policy makers.”

Check the full article.

Source: The European CanCer Organisation (ECCO). “Regular physical activity reduces breast cancer risk irrespective of age.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2014.

Why Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart

Food.Chocolate.DarkIt might seem too good to be true, but dark chocolate is good for you and scientists now know why. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis. What’s more, the scientists also found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect.

“The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Until the ‘dark chocolate drug’ is developed, however, we’ll just have to make do with what nature has given us!”

Check the full article.

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Why dark chocolate is good for your heart.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2014.

Healthy midlife diet may prevent dementia later

Support.Healthy.LivingHealthy dietary choices in midlife may prevent dementia in later years, according a doctoral thesis. The results showed that those who ate the healthiest diet at the average age of 50 had an almost 90 per cent lower risk of dementia in a 14-year follow-up study than those whose diet was the least healthy. The study was the first in the world to investigate the relationship between a healthy diet as early as in midlife and the risk of developing dementia later on.

The researchers assessed the link between diet and dementia using a healthy diet index based on the consumption of a variety of foods. Vegetables, berries and fruits, fish and unsaturated fats from milk products and spreads were some of the healthy components, whereas sausages, eggs, sweets, sugary drinks, salty fish and saturated fats from milk products and spreads were indicated as unhealthy.

Check the full article.

Source: University of Eastern Finland. “Healthy midlife diet may prevent dementia later.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014.

Calcium, vitamin D improve cholesterol in postmenopausal women

Support.Vitamin.DCalcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause can improve women’s cholesterol profiles. And much of that effect is tied to raising vitamin D levels, finds a new study from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) just published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

It has been debated if calcium or vitamin D can indeed improve cholesterol levels. And studies of women taking the combination could not separate the effects of calcium from those of vitamin D on cholesterol. But this study, led by NAMS Board of Trustees member Peter F. Schnatz, DO, NCMP, is helping to settle those questions because it looked both at how a calcium and vitamin D supplement changed cholesterol levels and how it affected blood levels of vitamin D in postmenopausal women.

Whether these positive effects of supplemental calcium and vitamin D on cholesterol will translate into benefits such as lower rates of cardiovascular disease for women after menopause remains to be seen, but these results, said the authors, are a good reminder that women at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency should consider taking calcium and vitamin D.

Check the full article.

Source: The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “Calcium, vitamin D improve cholesterol in postmenopausal women.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2014.

Protecting your brain: ‘Use it or lose it’

Do It Key Means Act Or Take Action NowThe protective effects of an active cognitive lifestyle arise through multiple biological pathways, new research suggests. For some time researchers have been aware of a link between what we do with our brains and the long-term risk for dementia. In general, those who are more mentally active or maintain an active cognitive lifestyle throughout their lives are at lower risk. New research throws some light on what may be happening at the biological level.

“These findings suggest that increased engagement in stimulating activities are part of a lifestyle that is, overall, more healthy,” commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “Rather than specifically protecting the health of activated circuits, it seems that a more active lifestyle has general effects on brain health reflected in greater neuronal density and preservation of the blood supply to the brain.”

“Overall, our research suggests that multiple complex brain changes may be responsible for the ‘use it or lose it’ effect,” Valenzuela added.

Check the full article.

Source: Elsevier. “Protecting your brain: ‘Use it or lose it’.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2012.

Homing in on cancer with new imaging method

Body.Disease.Cancer3There are many reasons why in the era of cutting-edge medicine it is still difficult to cure cancer. A tumor may, for instance, consist of different tumor cell sub-populations, each of which has its own profile and responds differently to therapy – or not. Furthermore, the cancer cells and the healthy cells in the body interact and communicate with one another. How a tumor then actually develops and whether metastases form depends on which signals a tumor cell receives from its environment. With the development of a new method a team of researchers has succeeded in comprehensively profiling and visualizing tumor cells from patient samples.

Check the full article.

Source: University of Zurich. “Homing in on cancer with new imaging method.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2014.

Strawberries lower cholesterol, study suggests

Food.Strawberry1A team of volunteers ate half a kilo of strawberries a day for a month to see whether it altered their blood parameters in any way. At the end of this unusual treatment, their levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides were significantly reduced, according to the analyses conducted by Italian and Spanish scientists. Several studies had already demonstrated the antioxidant capacity of strawberries, but now researchers conducted an analysis that revealed that these fruits also help to reduce cholesterol.

Read the full article.

Source: Plataforma SINC. “Strawberries lower cholesterol, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2014.